Volunteer with DNREC

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for both individuals and groups.

There are many ways to make a difference, from large group events such as the annual beach grass planting to individual actions such as teaching a child to fish. There are opportunities to take part in research programs, stewardship projects, helping with education programs or joining several annual events.

Check out our volunteer calendar or explore the volunteer opportunities below.

Research Opportunities

Two volunteers count horseshoe crabs within a square defined by white PVC pipe at night on a beach.

Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey

Volunteers join Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve staff to count spawning horseshoe crabs in May and June along Delaware Bay beaches. Training is required.

Osprey Monitoring and Management

Volunteers monitor osprey nests throughout Delaware to document osprey nesting activity and important breeding milestones.

Delaware Bat Program

The Delaware Bat Program monitors the health and abundance of bats in the First State. Volunteer bat spotters adopt a bat roost in their area then record data and count bats as they emerge from their roost in the evening.

Delaware Shorebird Project

The Delaware Shorebird Project monitors migratory shorebirds along Delaware’s bayshore during the peak migration in May-June. Volunteers assist with catching and banding birds, “resighting” birds with flags, entering data, and preparing field equipment.

Piping Plover Program

Dwindling populations have landed the Piping Plovers on the federal Endangered Species List. Delaware’s Piping Plover Program monitors these beachnesting birds, provides habitat protection and educates the beachgoing public.

The Delaware Kestrel Partnership

The kestrel monitoring program relies on community scientist volunteers who dedicate time from March through July each year to help monitor kestrel boxes across the state.

Stewardship Opportunities

An Adopt-a-Beach sign on a post in front of some beach fencing and dune grass.

Operation Terrapin Rescue

Operation Terrapin Rescue is a volunteer program to help diamond-backed terrapins move safely between the Delaware Bay and their nesting sites at Port Mahon, while also collecting accurate and valuable data on the terrapins’ movements.

Assist with Habitat Management

The Delaware National Research Reserve offers stewardship project opportunities, which can include anything from potting seedlings in our native plant nursery to planting trees as part of our restoration plans.

Adopt-A-Beach Program

DNREC’s Adopt-A-Beach program is a partnership between Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and volunteers, working in tandem to protect and enhance Delaware’s beaches.

Education Opportunities

A pair of interns conduct an interview in front of a beach staff shack.

Teach Coastal Ecology

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve provides programs for all ages throughout the year on the Delaware Bay and coastal ecology.  Topics include horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, wetlands, and climate change.  Some training is required.

DuPont Nature Center

The DuPont Nature Center provides aquatic education programs for all ages and is open to the public April – September each year.  DNC volunteers greet and interact with our public visitors, assist with programs and events, and help with facility maintenance and upkeep.

Aquatic Resources Education Center

The Aquatic Resources Education Center facilitates an Eco-Explorers program for 5th graders, provides aquatic resources and training for educators and coordinates the Take a Kid Fishing program. Volunteers at AREC assist with Eco-Explorers and the Take a Kid Fishing Program.

Hunter Education Program

The Hunter Education Program provides basic hunter education and wild turkey hunting courses in addition to trapping and bowhunter courses. Hunter Education volunteer instructors teach these courses throughout the state.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program

The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program coordinates a yearly event with opportunities for participants to choose from courses that teach skills in outdoor activities which include fishing, boating, shooting sports, hunting, and other recreational activities like, hiking, birding, etc.  Volunteers with the BOW program may assist with coordination before and during the event, and may even be course instructors!

Take a Kid Fishing Program

Take a Kid Fishing events are geared toward children ages 6-15 and provide participants with fundamental fishing skills. Volunteers assist with teaching participants how to fish, tie knots, cast, etc.

Annual Events

A group of volunteers look for trash on a rocky riverbank under some trees.

Earth Day Seedling Potting

On the Saturday after Earth Day each year the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is joined by volunteers to pot native seedlings to be used in habitat restoration later in the year. Registration required.

National Estuaries Day Tree Planting

On National Estuaries Day in September volunteers assist the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve to plant native trees at the Blackbird Creek Reserve. Registration required.

Beach Grass Planting

On the third Saturday in March, volunteers help stabilize Delaware’s sand dunes by planting beach grass on the dunes of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean beaches. Registration required.

Delaware Coastal Cleanup

The annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup offers volunteers an opportunity to help make a difference for Delaware’s shoreline and inland waterways while joining an international effort to clean up the world’s waters.  Registration required. Generally, set for the second Saturday in September.

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